Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Family in Rome

Christmas for me is simply the most beautiful time of the year. We celebrate the great mysteries of our faith, the birth of our Savior, Son of God and Son of Mary. And of course it is a festive time, full of food, fun, family and normally lots of snow. But this year, Christmas was made even more special. My mother and two sisters came to Rome to spend Christmas with me. It was a trip we'd been planning for some time, and one that I'd been looking forward to for months (really since leaving home).

The whole experience was a real blessing. I've explored Rome before. I've helped other explore Rome before. But nothing was like accompanying my mom and sisters on a pilgrimage to the Eternal City. There were many excitements along the way as there always is with travel. I've grown accustomed to many of the difficulties of travel, but for my mom and sister, Mckenzie, this was their first trip to Europe. It was also a great blessing to see Italy anew through their experience of it. Places that I walk by every day came alive again as they shared their thoughts and impressions with me.

There are two highlights from the trip I'd like to share. The first was our day trip to Assisi and Orvieto. We headed out bright and early Sunday morning for Assisi, the home town of St. Francis and St. Clare. There we were able to walk around the medieval village and see their tombs and everything. The Mass at the tomb of St. Francis was quite beautiful. The homily was quite good and I tried to pass along the highlights to my mom who I thought would enjoy it. The weather was cold, but in all it was a beautiful day. And lucky for the girls all the souvenir shops were open so they could buy as many gifts as they wanted. After a late lunch we hit the road again for Orvieto, which is another beautiful medieval Italian town. There is kept the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena which inspired the feast of Corpus Christi. All in all it was a lot of walking, but it was worth it. Thanks a lot to Msgr. Gallagher, a priest from our diocese working at the Vatican, for lending me his car and making the trip possible.

The other highlight of their trip was midnight Christmas Mass with Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica.  For my mom and Mckenzie it was their first time seeing the Pope. We started waiting in line at 6pm (Mass started at 10pm not midnight). The crowds were incredible and even one of the biggest churches in the world couldn't accommodate everyone so it was necessary to get in line early. Mass itself was stunningly beautiful. Mckenzie especially loved the Sistine Choir. The Holy Father's homily was striking. If you get a chance, go ahead and read it. The Pope spoke about the importance of welcoming the baby Jesus into our homes. He challenged us and asked us, "What would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them?"

All in all it was a great trip and a really powerful pilgrimage for all. Thanks to everyone for their prayers and support. Especially to the folks at Holy Family Parish and Sacred Heart Parish. I know many of you sent so many prayers with my family. My mom made sure to pass along all the hugs as requested. A special thanks to Bishop Hebda and Fr. Charlie for all their support.


1 comment:

  1. Tyler, you were a wonderful host and made the trip especially memorable! The girls and I feel especially blessed that we were able to spend Christmas with you. Love you!